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How to organise trip to Portugal

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I know lots of people who have been to the Algarve or to Lisbon - but no-one seems to be able tell me about other parts of Portugal, can anyone help?
We want to fly to Faro then spend a few days on a beach - could be one of the less touristy parts of the Algarve or further up the west coast. I can't get a good mental picture of what this coast is like! Is it walking / surfing type beaches or can you sunbathe and swim here? Why does no-one seem to go here?
Then perhaps travel inland to somewhere historic... ending up in Lisbon for a few days. Then we could either fly to Edinburgh from Lisbon or do some sort of round trip back to Faro airport. Also, we could hire a car for some /all of this trip but would be happy to get a train. We would also quite like to spend five of our nights in posadas as we love the Spanish paradors.
Sorry this is all a bit vague ... can you help me get started on some sort of itinery? thanks

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